Sunday, May 30, 2010

Peace, Joy, and Rest

There is something very special about Roseland. You can literally feel a change in atmosphere as you drive through the brick gates. Time stops. There is a peace beyond understanding and explanation. While it is very real and tangible, it’s hard to pinpoint. We feel it every day, and our guests often remark about it. Such comments are not uncommon from our guests; let me recount just two recent incidents and propose an explanation:

     The Couple

One couple came to stay at Roseland a few weeks ago. This was to be their first stay in a B&B. They searched the internet; they looked at B&B after B&B, but something kept drawing them back to Roseland each time. Finally they decided to come. They were looking for a quiet place to get away and rejuvenate. One had recently lost a parent.

When they came, we ended up talking for hours about family, relationships, and loved ones. We talked about loss, grieving, and joy. We talked about The Lord, how good and loving He is, in spite of our shortcomings. We discussed how He walks us through our trials, and shared thoughts to some tough question such as, “How can a loving God allow pain and suffering?” It was a most delightful and refreshing visit for our guests and for us.

Next morning when our guests left, they mentioned that they had known the presence of the Lord at Roseland; that they felt His peace and joy in the midst of all their travails; that He must have drawn their attention to Roseland’s web site whenever they looked at other options because He wanted them to come here.

We parted not just friends, but family. They look forward to returning and I look forward to continuing our conversations…

     The Family Gathering

A group of sisters came to spend the night. One of the sisters was battling cancer and had just completed a course of chemo. They sat on the porch, had a wonderful picnic dinner, and reminisced. Then they walked and enjoyed the serenity of Roseland’s pristine forest.

After their walk I happened to bump into them talking on the porch, and we struck up a conversation. In the course of that conversation they remarked, “It is so peaceful here. We felt the Lord’s presence the moment we arrived. Most places we visit aren’t like that. We have to call on Him repeatedly, because He is not there.”

“My wife and I purchased Roseland mostly because we felt the Lord calling us to be there,” I replied. “So, when we opened the business, we dedicated Roseland to the Lord’s glory. Since then we’ve had missionaries and prayer warriors unexpectedly visit us several times – saying they were called to come and pray over Roseland, to come and bless it.”

When asked if we own Roseland, we replied, “No. The Lord owns Roseland. We are the caretakers.”

One sister's comment in our guest book says it all:

“Thank you for a beautiful and peaceful retreat for my sisters and I. We were blessed with the joy and rest of the Lord in this place.”

Clearly, based on our guests’ and our personal experiences, the Lord is not an absentee landlord. We have witnessed too many miracles at Roseland for it to be otherwise. We have felt His healing touch too many times for it to be otherwise. And clearly, our guests feel and remark about that special peace beyond understanding, that quiet joy which one experiences only in the presence of our glorious God.

So now, finally, it’s clear why The Lord brought Debbie and me to Roseland: He needed a special place where His people, His warriors, can go for R&R from the daily spiritual warfare of this world – just as our soldiers need a place for R&R away from the travails of the battlefield.

It is The Lord’s presence that makes Roseland so special. His presence is the source of that change in atmosphere our guests feel as they drive through those brick gates. It is the peace of the Lord, a peace beyond all understanding. Praise God!

And thank You, Lord, for allowing us to be Your servants and the caretakers of Your property, Roseland.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Family Reunion

We had one of the most wonderful B&B experiences this past week. We hosted a delightful family reunion from all over the world. Four couples converged on Roseland Plantation from Australia and New Zealand for an extended holiday. They were on their way to a wedding in Boston and decided to make a three day stopover here in Tyler to visit an elderly aunt they haven’t seen for years. They had arrived via different routes; some had just visited Las Vegas, others came via the Grand Canyon, and so on.

The family rented the entire house for three days and had a lovely time. The ladies treated the aunt to a beautiful Roseland Tea Party while the gentlemen went golfing at Holly Tree, a local golf course. They all visited nearby attractions and sampled authentic Texas country cooking at The Shed.

After each active day of excursions, they would sit on the porch, drink lemonade, and share family stories with each other and with us. It seemed a magical time, indeed! This short visit has forged some lifetime memories, reinforced family ties, and formed new friendships. How wonderful!

This is the Roseland Plantation experience that Debbie and I had envisioned for all our guests. Their comment in our guest book summarizes it so well:

“So enjoyed our visit. We leave with regret and lovely memories. Many thanks for the care you took on our behalf.”

Thank you, all, for visiting with us at Roseland. We are honored for the opportunity to meet you and share a bit of Heaven with you. May God bless you all and give you a safe journey home.

Steve [for Debbie]


I’m tired of writing about disasters, so here’s some fun news:

The water temperature in the swimming pool is now 82 F. That’s reasonably comfortable, so Bryce and I went swimming today. Let the Roseland swim season begin!

Steve, Bryce, Christina, and Brayden swimming

Sunday, May 16, 2010

FIRE !!!

First rain, then wind, and now fire. Life is never dull at Roseland Plantation.
Looks like we’re working our way through all possible natural disasters. I really am not excited about experiencing earthquakes and tsunamis; fortunately we’re not in California or on the Gulf Coast, so we should be spared those calamities. In the meantime let me recount our latest adventures.

A few weeks ago we had the tornadoes and they did quite a bit of damage in the woods, although the buildings were spared any damage. However, one should not tempt fate, so we called Erasmo, our tree guy, to trim some of the trees that were already dead, almost dead, or severely threatening some of the buildings. He cut down or trimmed about a dozen trees; about half of them were red oak, the remainder mostly pine.

Alejandro at work

Since we have a fire pit for burning dead brush and limbs, we told him to leave everything and we would burn it. All winter Alejandro has been diligently cleaning up the unsightly fallen trees and limbs and we have been burning them in our fire pit without problems.
Making progress

At first we used to stretch a water hose to the fire pit and Alejandro would monitor the progress of the fire. Little by little we gained confidence and became less and less diligent. By the time we started burning Erasmo’s debris, Alejandro just threw the wood on the fire and went about collecting more. After all, there was no reason to expect any problems based on all our experience to date.
Firefighters arrive (truck too big to get near fire)

I had just arrived home from errands on Tuesday when Alejandro came running, “Fire! Fire!”
“Of course there is a fire. We’re burning brush,” I thought to myself.
But he insisted, “We need shovels and rakes.”
Finally, after much cajoling I decided to humor him, get the shovels and rakes, and go look at the fire.
Fire truck on the scene
“The worst it could be is just a little blaze from an ember,” I thought.

When we arrived to the fire pit, we were engulfed in smoke everywhere. Then we saw flames next to the driveway. “Oh, that’s not too bad,” I said. Then Alejandro pointed about 50 yards farther in the woods. More flames. Hmmm. Not promising.

Fire fighters at work
A quick survey of the area showed we had a fire about the size of half a football field on our hands. The fire was quickly spreading amongst the dead leaves and pine needles.

We ran back to the Windsor House, grabbed every garden hose we could find on the property, hooked them up and started hosing the fire. It continued to spread. “This is not good,” Alejandro said to me. What an understatement!

We asked Christina to call the fire department. The Midway fire house is less than two miles down the road. Surely they’ll be here soon. So we hosed and waited.

Out in the country we only have a volunteer fire department, so they had to page everybody, then the fire team had to assemble at the fire house, and finally they could make the run to Roseland. The entire process took about 30 minutes. We were delighted to have their assistance and expertise; about 5 hours later we declared victory at last, and everybody went home.
Going home!

Later in the evening I checked the scene, and found that several small fires had reignited. I doused them with the hose and went to sleep. Next morning, first thing I found several more small fires burning, and doused them. Total victory, at last!

As I thought about the events of the past several days, it occurred to me how this whole experience mirrors sin in our lives: We live every day and get into a routine. Pretty soon we go on autopilot and start taking shortcuts. Then we get so comfortable we think everything is under control, and let down our guard.
The End

All of sudden something unusual happens in our life, something sinful, that starts a small fire.
“No problem,” we think, “I can control it. Always have.”
But soon we find that little fire spreading out of control until we are burning up in the middle of a huge forest fire which consumes us. Worse yet, even if we are successful in controlling it at first, it will return again and again.

Furthermore, the past is no guarantee of the future. Just because something bad didn’t happen when we last took that little detour off the straight and narrow doesn’t mean it won’t happen next time. (Just because we didn’t get caught at that speed trap two weeks ago is no guarantee that we won’t get caught tomorrow or the day after. In fact, sooner or later we are certain to get caught!)

Therefore, dear friends, don’t run on autopilot and take no shortcuts - not even once, else the fire of sin consume you.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Just a simple, short message to all those wonderful Moms who have enriched our lives through the years:

We couldn't have done it without you! Many thanks for your love, for your courage, your strength, your steadfastness and faithfulness. Happy Mother's Day!

Much love and many blessings,


Friday, May 7, 2010


How often have you not found that red box of cookies in the pantry
The cookies were right in front of your nose in a green box?

How often have you not found that green box of cookies you thought were in the back of the pantry
The box was right in front of your nose?

How many miracles have you not seen
You’ve been looking in the wrong place,
For the wrong thing,
At the wrong time,
Or not looking at all?

I tell you the truth, you will never see a miracle until you believe that miracles exist.

© Istvan es Carmela, September 2005 (166)

Last blog I wrote about the fireworks and then the rain. Some would say that was just coincidence, but I don’t believe that. Just in case there be about any doubts about the possibility of miracles, let me recount what happened the following week:

We had a big wedding scheduled for Saturday. It was a 100 person outdoor package, complete with food, tent, dancing, and more. Jennifer was coordinating the entire event.

The wedding party had rented the Windsor House for the night before the wedding and the night of the wedding. The wedding party went to a rehearsal dinner at Mercado’s, a well known Mexican restaurant in Tyler, the night before the event and returned to the Windsor House about midnight to sleep. We had retired to our house in the woods earlier, for we had a big day ahead of us.

At about 2 am Jennifer, Bryce, and Johnathan were awakened in our house by much thunder and lightning, and the sound of heavy winds whipping the trees. Jennifer described it as “strobe lights in the window.” Johnathan described it as “a freight train” – although there are no train tracks within miles of Roseland. I slept through it all. I can sleep through anything.

Then, at about 2:30 the power went out. Utter blackness; you couldn’t even see the tip of your nose! When I awoke at 7 the next morning, the power was still off. I recalled hearing some thunder the night before, and didn’t pay much attention to the power outage; it’s not an uncommon experience, and power usually comes on in an hour or two. Well, by 8 am the power still hadn’t come on; we had a full house; and the wedding day activities were about to begin with a big breakfast. Unfortunately the entire house, including the oven, stove, water heater, and air conditioner, run on electricity. The electric company promised to restore service by noon. What to do? What to do?

We quickly called Edom Bakery and Grill who was able to provide an excellent breakfast of eggs, sausage, and biscuits – apparently their power was still on. Then we immediately cornered the portable generator rentals market in Tyler, just in case. By the time we were done, we had 5 portable generators in stock, ready to go.

First Hit
In the meantime, the wedding party was preparing for a 5 pm wedding, setting up the Chapel and ballroom. The bride and bridesmaid wanted to take baths and get ready, but there was no hot water. Clearly it was time to put the generators into operation, which should have been a simple proposition. Not so!

I will not bore you with the technical details, but suffice it to say that I spent most of the day trying to find the proper plugs and connectors. We finally succeeded by about 3 pm, but that was too late for the bridal party, who had to prepare for the wedding without hot water. Although we had been running the main water heater off a dedicated generator since noon – the largest one with plenty of capacity - something was wrong: There was still no hot water.

“This makes no sense,” I thought to myself. “What’s going on?”
It turns out the generator was faulty and would power the water heater for about 5 minutes then trip (without any indicator of failure). After fiddling around with this for about an hour or so I figured out the problem; substituted a smaller generator; and soon we had hot water. Too bad it was already 4 pm!

Second Hit
Noon had come and gone with still no power, so we decided to conduct the entire wedding on generators. While I was messing with the hot water heater, Johnathan strung extension cords everywhere: The Chapel, tent, ball room, video projector, and DJ stand. We actually had to augment our inventory with four new, long, extra heavy duty extension cords. Ultimately everything was set and ready to go, and the wedding proceeded beautifully. Katie, Aaron, and our guests all complimented Jennifer and told us it was the most beautiful wedding they had experienced. A miracle? Perhaps…
Third Hit

By 9 pm the wedding party began to wind down, but there was still no power! The Windsor House was completely dark; we provided flashlights so our guests could find their stuff. So once more we reconfigured the generators and strung extension cords throughout the Windsor House, providing light in every room. Most of our guests chose to go home, but several brave souls stayed overnight.
Next morning, we still had no power so we provided a full breakfast using the portable generators. Our guests finally left Roseland Sunday morning at 11 am. And literally just as they were driving out the front gate, the power came back on. We had experienced a 36 hour outage and not only survived, but succeeded in providing our guests with an outstanding, unforgettable memory for life. But that wasn’t the real miracle.

After the guests left, we surveyed the property and found that the entire power outage was caused by a tornado passing through. The power outage was caused by lots of huge oak trees toppled throughout the area all up and down 64. The real miracle, however, was that the tornado spared Roseland and all who were here:

Last Hit
When it hit, it ripped out and toppled a large, 2 ft diameter oak tree within 200 feet of our house in the woods, hopped over the house where we were sleeping and touched down again about 200 feet on the other side of our house - also about 200 feet from the Chapel. At that point it toppled two pines and another huge oak tree – this one with a trunk about 4 feet in diameter. Then it hopped over Roseland entirely and completely destroyed our neighbor’s equipment shed which is less than 300 feet from the Windsor House. Not one penny of damage was sustained by any building on Roseland property. Now that is truly a miracle! As in many times past – most recently the previous week - God blessed and protected Roseland and all who were there. Thank you, Lord!

The events of the weekend prove that miracles do indeed exist all around us all the time, if you look for them and recognize them. The biggest miracle of all, however, is you and I – that we exist at all and that our Creator loves us so much that He was willing to die on the Cross just so we could spend eternity with Him. Wow! What a miracle!
Johnathan on Forklift Clearing Fallen Tree

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fireworks! - then Rain

A few weeks ago we had a beautiful wedding at Roseland. The Lord always smiles upon Roseland weddings. For example we had one in the eye of Hurricane Ike. It rained before the wedding, stopped raining during the wedding, and rained after the wedding.

The weather forecast for our area on the day of this recent wedding predicted thunder showers all day, but we didn't get a drop of rain all day at Roseland. In fact, it was a beautiful, mostly sunny day. It rained elsewhere, but not at Roseland!

Candy "bar"
The wedding took place outdoors; it was one of our Deluxe packages. There was a wonderful ceremony in front of the Hambrick Chapel, dancing, a horse drawn carriage, lots of food, and fireworks at the end. The small children played horseshoes and ran around the property; the family enjoyed fellowship all day; the young adults danced. The fireworks were spectacular.

There was not a drop of rain all day - until the fireworks ended. It began to rain almost immediately after the wedding celebrations were over. The Lord held back the rain for the sake of the new couple until the fireworks were over, then blessed the union after the celebration with His tears of love.

Romantic ride in a horse drawn carriage
Who says there is no God? Who says He is not watching out for His children? Who says He is far away and doesn't care? We can see His hand even in events that are insignificant on a cosmic scale, such as this wedding, because nothing is insignificant to Him. He is always there with His beloved children - you and me. Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings you have showered and continue to shower on our lives and on Roseland Plantation, which my beloved Debbie and I dedicated to Your glory.

Dear Lord,

May you grant Stephen and Holly a blessed, holy marriage to each other and to Jesus Christ, their Savior, for many, many years to come.


Collage of Spectacular Fireworks After the Wedding